PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL has 34 former players and 19 coaches on the 16 teams competing in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It is the sixth year in a row that there have been at least 30 former ECHL players and the eighth consecutive season that over 25 players with ECHL experience have competed in the NHL postseason.
The ECHL has been represented on the last 10 Stanley Cup champions and there are 18 ECHL alums who have their name engraved on the Stanley Cup: assistant coach Mike Haviland and associate coach John Torchetti (Chicago – 2010), head coach Dan Bylsma and Ruslan Fedotenko (Pittsburgh – 2009), Aaron Downey (Detroit – 2008), Francois Beauchemin, George Parros and assistant coach Dave Farrish (Anaheim – 2007), Andrew Hutchinson, Chad LaRose and head coach Peter Laviolette (Carolina – 2006), Ruslan Fedotenko, Nolan Pratt and Andre Roy (Tampa Bay – 2004), Corey Schwab (New Jersey – 2003), Manny Legace (Detroit – 2002), David Aebischer and Nolan Pratt (Colorado – 2001), Krzysztof Oliwa (New Jersey – 2000) and Kevin Dean (New Jersey – 1995). Fedotenko and Pratt are the only former ECHL players to have their name engraved twice on the Stanley Cup.
It is the seventh straight year that the ECHL has been represented by at least six coaches including Chicago’s Haviland, who played in the ECHL with Richmond and Winston-Salem in 1990-91, and then coached in Trenton and Atlantic City from 1999-2005 and was part of Chicago’s Stanley Cup championship in 2010; Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma, who played in the ECHL with Greensboro in 1993-94 and in 2009 led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup championship; Washington’s Bruce Boudreau, who led Mississippi to the Kelly Cup championship in 1999 and Philadelphia’s Peter Laviolette, who coached Wheeling in 1997-98 and led Carolina to the 2006 Stanley Cup championship and guided the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010. Other former ECHL coaches in the Stanley Cup Playoffs include Buffalo associate coach Brian McCutcheon, who was the ECHL Coach of the Year with Columbus in 1997; Anaheim assistant coach Dave Farrish, who was ECHL Coach of the Year with Louisiana in 2002 and Nashville assistant coach Peter Horachek, who coached in the 2002 ECHL All-Star Game while leading Trenton.
Twenty-three ECHL players have made their NHL debut this season: former Idaho Steelheads goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Richard Bachman (Dallas on Dec. 11), former Reading Royals defenseman Drew Bagnall (Minnesota on April 8), former Las Vegas Wranglers right wing Adam Cracknell (St. Louis on Dec. 15), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender Mark Dekanich (Nashville on Dec. 18), former South Carolina Stingrays left wing Stefan Della Rovere (St. Louis on Dec. 1), former Phoenix RoadRunners center Andrew Desjardins (San Jose on Jan. 3), former Cincinnati Cyclones goaltender and 2007 ECHL All-Star Cedrick Desjardins (Cincinnati on Dec. 30), former Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies and Idaho Steelheads defenseman Brian Fahey (Washington on Oct. 16), former South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Braden Holtby (Washington on Nov. 7), former Charlotte Checkers right wing Hugh Jessiman (Florida on Feb. 27), former Texas Wildcatters left wing Matt Kassian (Minnesota on Nov. 5), former Ontario Reign center Dwight King (Los Angeles on Nov. 17), former Utah Grizzlies goaltender Mikko Koskinen (New York Islanders on Feb. 8), former Phoenix RoadRunners and Utah Grizzlies goaltender Nathan Lawson (New York Islanders on Dec. 18), former Toledo Walleye goaltender Thomas McCollum (Detroit on March 30), former Trenton Titans defenseman Olivier Magnan (New Jersey on Oct. 22), former Trenton Devils center Brad Mills (New Jersey on Oct. 30), former South Carolina Stingrays center and two-time ECHL All-Star Travis Morin (Dallas on Jan. 26), former Johnstown Chiefs and Cincinnati Cyclones forward Chris Mueller (Nashville on Dec. 28), former Bakersfield Condors and Elmira Jackals goaltender and 2010 ECHL All-Star Timo Pielmeier (Anaheim on Feb. 19), former Alaska Aces right wing Ryan Reaves (St. Louis on Oct. 11), former Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays goaltender and 2009 Kelly Cup Playoffs Most Valuable Player James Reimer (Tortonto on Dec. 20) and former Victoria Salmon Kings defenseman Yann Sauve (Vancouver on Feb. 15).
Four players have played in both the ECHL and NHL in 2010-11: Mike Brodeur (Elmira and Ottawa), Thomas McCollum (Toledo and Detroit), Timo Pielmeier (Elmira and Anaheim) and Yann Sauve (Victoria and Vancouver).
The ECHL had a record 79 players on NHL opening-day rosters, surpassing the 78 from a year ago and marking the eighth year in a row that there have been over 50 former ECHL players on opening-day rosters. Every ECHL team has an affiliation with an NHL team and the league has affiliations with 27 of the 30 NHL teams, marking the 14th consecutive season that the league has had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL.
There have been 466 players who have played in the NHL after playing in the ECHL including a record 52 who made their debut in 2008-09. The ECHL has had 274 players reach the NHL since 2002-03 when it changed its focus to become the primary developmental league for the NHL and the AHL. The ECHL had 97 players reach the NHL in its first 10 seasons and 215 in the first 15 years. There have been 210 ECHL players who have played their first game in the last six seasons for an average of 35 per year.
The first ECHL player to play in the NHL was Johnstown Chiefs goaltender Scott Gordon, who played his first game with the Quebec Nordiques against Buffalo on Jan. 30, 1990. The 100th player honor is shared by Jean Sebastien Aubin and Manny Legace, who both made their debut on Oct. 21, 1998 with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. The 200th player was Brett McLean with the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 10, 2002 while the 300th was David Liffiton with the New York Rangers on Apr. 11, 2006 and the 400th was Phil Oreskovic on Mar. 9, 2009 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There are 30 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the NHL including Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, New York Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and St. Louis Blues head coach Davis Payne while former ECHL player Dan Bylsma is head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is the sixth consecutive season that there have been 11 or more coaches with an ECHL background working in the NHL. Boudreau, who coached Mississippi for three seasons winning the Kelly Cup championship in 1999, was named NHL Coach of the Year in 2007-08 becoming the first former ECHL coach to receive the award.
There are 21 former ECHL officials are working as part of the NHL officiating team in 2010-11 with referees David Banfield, Francis Charron, Chris Ciamaga, Ghislain Hebert, Jean Hebert, Marc Joannette, Mike Leggo, Wes McCauley, Dean Morton, Dan O’Rourke, Brian Pochmara, Kevin Pollock, Kyle Rehman, Chris Rooney, Justin St. Pierre and Ian Walsh, and linesmen Steve Barton, Brian Mach, Tim Nowak, Bryan Pancich and Jay Sharrers.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the NHL include John Ahlers and Steve Carroll of the Anaheim Ducks, Tom Callahan of the Nashville Predators, Dave Goucher of the Boston Bruins, Chris Kerber of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Michaels of the Edmonton Oilers, Dave Mishkin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bob McElligott and John Michael of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Ryan Stanzel and Jeremy Zager, who were both recipients of the ECHL Media Relations Director of the Year award, are working in the communications department for the Minnesota Wild and the Los Angeles Kings, respectively. Former ECHL assistant director of communications Joe Siville and Kelly Murray are now with the Philadelphia Flyers and the Washington Capitals, respectively, while former ECHL director of communications Jason Rothwell is the creative director for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Former ECHL coaches and players in Stanley Cup Playoffs (ECHL affiliate in parentheses):
Anaheim Ducks (Elmira Jackals)
Assistant coach Dave Farrish (Louisiana, 2001-04 and Pensacola, 2004-05), video coach Joe Trotta (Peoria, 2000-01), Francois Beauchemin (Mississippi, 2001-02), Sheldon Brookbank (Mississippi, 2001-02), Dan Ellis (Idaho, 2003-04), George Parros (Reading, 2004-05) and Dan Sexton (Bakersfield, 2009-10)
Assistant coach Geoff Ward (Arkansas, 1999-00), Shane Hnidy (Baton Rouge, 1996-97 and Florida, 2004-05), Anton Khudobin (Texas, 2007-08 and Florida, 2008-09), Rich Peverley (South Carolina, 2004-05 and Reading, 2005-06), Michael Ryder (Tallahassee, 2000-01 and Mississippi, 2001-02) and Tim Thomas (Birmingham, 1997-98)
Associate coach Brian McCutcheon (Columbus, 1996-97) and Patrick Lalime (Hampton Roads, 1994-95)
Chicago Blackhawks (Toledo Walleye)
Assistant coach Mike Haviland (Richmond, 1990-91; Winston-Salem, 1990-91; Trenton, 1999-2001 and 2004-05 and Atlantic City, 2001-04) and developmental goaltending coach Wade Flaherty (Greensboro, 1989-90).
Detroit Red Wings (Toledo Walleye)
Los Angeles Kings (Ontario Reign)
Assistant coach Jamie Kompon (Hampton Roads, 1989-90; Cincinnati, 1990-91 and Winston-Salem, 1990-91) and Jonathan Quick (Reading, 2007-08)
Alex Auld (Columbia, 2001-02), David Desharnais (Cincinnati, 2007-08), Scott Gomez (Alaska, 2004-05) and Tom Pyatt (Charlotte, 2007-08)
Assistant coach Peter Horachek (Nashville, 1990-91 and Trenton 2001-02), Francis Bouillon (Wheeling, 1996-97) and Jerred Smithson (Trenton, 2000-01)
Video coach Jerry Dineen (Winston-Salem, 1990-92 and Raleigh, 1991-92), Martin Biron (South Carolina, 1998), Ruslan Fedotenko (Trenton, 1999-00) and Dan Girardi (Charlotte, 2005-06)
Head coach Peter Laviolette (Wheeling, 1997-98), Daniel Carcillo (Wheeling, 2005-06) and Jody Shelley (Johnstown, 1998-00)
Paul Bissonnette (Wheeling, 2005-08), Vern Fiddler (Arkansas 2000-01 and Roanoke 2001-02) and Jason Labarbera (Charlotte, 2000-02)
Pittsburgh Penguins (Wheeling Nailers)
Head coach Dan Bylsma (Greensboro, 1992-94), assistant coach Todd Reirden (Raleigh, 1994-95; Tallahassee, 1994-95 and Jacksonville, 1995-96), Deryk Engelland (Las Vegas, 2003-05; South Carolina, 2005-06 and Reading, 2006-07) and Mark Letestu (Wheeling, 2007-08)
Assistant coach Jay Woodcroft (Jackson, 1999-00), assistant coach Matt Shaw (Mobile, 1997-98), goaltending coach Corey Schwab (Cincinnati, 1991-92) and Andrew Desjardins (Phoenix, 2008-09)
Tampa Bay Lightning (Florida Everblades)
Assistant coach Dan Lacroix (Atlantic City, 2001-02) and Mike Smith (Lexington, 2002-03)
Alexandre Burrows (Greenville 2002-03; Baton Rouge 2002-03 and Columbia 2003-05)
Head coach Bruce Boudreau (Mississippi, 1996-99), assistant coach Bob Woods (Johnstown, 1990-94; Hampton Roads, 1995-96; Mobile, 1996-97; Tallahassee, 1997-98 and Mississippi, 1998-05), goaltending coach Arturs Irbe (Johnstown, 2003-04), Jay Beagle (Idaho, 2006-07), Matt Hendricks (Florida, 2004-05), D.J. King (Alaska, 2005-06), Michal Neuvirth (South Carolina, 2008-09) and Tyler Sloan (Dayton, 2002-03 and 2004-05 and Las Vegas, 2005-06)
Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League Fast Facts
• Watch games live on America One, the “Official Broadband & Mobile Broadcaster” of the ECHL.
• The ECHL celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2007-08 and is the third-longest tenured professional hockey league behind only the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
• ECHL began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states and has grown to be a coast-to-coast league with 19 teams in 14 states and British Columbia in 2010-11.
• The league officially changed its name from East Coast Hockey League to ECHL on May 19, 2003.
• In the last seven seasons the ECHL has had more call-ups to the AHL than all other professional leagues combined with over 3,000 call-ups involving more than 1,500 players and in 2009-10 there were 10 times as many call-ups from the ECHL to the AHL than all other professional leagues.
• The ECHL averaged 4,486 fans per game in 2009-10, the highest single-season average since 1999-00, and is the only minor professional hockey league to increase average attendance each of the last three seasons. It is the sixth consecutive season and the 18th time in the last 20 years that the ECHL has averaged over 4,000 fans and the league drew over 3 million fans for the 17th year in a row.
• Further information on the ECHL is available from its website at ECHL.com.